There really are no differences between the left and right: they all work for the beast that is world government run by private power
The Associated Press
February 22, 2012
President Barack Obama says the current corporate tax system is outdated, unfair and inefficient. He is calling for an end to dozens of subsidies and loopholes that he says offer tax breaks to companies that move jobs and profits overseas.
Obama says the current system is "not right and it needs to change."
The Obama administration is proposing cutting corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 28 percent. That is still higher than the 25 percent rate sought by congressional Republicans.
Obama said in a statement Wednesday that his framework lowers the corporate tax rate and broadens the tax base and will increase competitiveness for companies across the U.S.Obama: Current tax system unfair; overhaul would make US businesses more competitive
The Associated Press
February 22, 2012
President Barack Obama on Wednesday proposed a lower corporate tax rate and an end to dozens of loopholes he said helps companies move jobs and profits overseas. "It's not right and it needs to change," he said.
The president wants to lower the corporate tax rate from the current 35 percent, the highest in the world after Japan. Under his plan, manufacturers would receive incentives so that their effective tax rate could be even lower.
Obama's election-year plan would set a new 28 percent corporate tax rate, still higher than the 25 percent rate sought by congressional Republicans.
"It's a framework that lowers the corporate tax rate and broadens the tax base in order to increase competitiveness for companies across the nation," Obama said in a statement.
Corporations would have to give up dozens of cherished loopholes and subsidies that they now enjoy. Corporations with overseas operations would also face an unspecified minimum tax on their foreign earnings.
The proposal outlined by Geithner would also eliminate tax loopholes and subsidies that Geithner called "fundamentally unfair."
Obama also would set a minimum tax on the foreign earning of U.S. companies.
Chances of accomplishing such change in the tax system are slim in a year dominated mostly with presidential and congressional elections. But for Obama, the proposal is part of a larger tax plan that is central to his re-election strategy.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who rolled out the plan Wednesday morning, acknowledged that the debate "will be politically contentious."
"Some will say these proposals are too tough on business, and others will say that they're not tough enough," he said.
Obama's plan would be part of a larger effort to overhaul the U.S. tax system, and it dovetails with Obama's call for raising taxes on millionaires and maintaining current rates on individuals making $200,000 or less. But White House spokesman Jay Carney said Congress could act separately on the corporate tax component of Obama's overall tax strategy.
Republican reaction was mixed. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said he appreciated the administration's plan, though it set a corporate tax rate that is higher than the 25 percent he has proposed. He faulted Obama, however, for not offering a wholesale overhaul of the entire tax system for businesses and individuals.
"While this is a good step by the administration, I will borrow from the president's own words to Congress from just yesterday: 'Don't stop here. Keep going,'" Camp said in a statement. But Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, dismissed the president's plan as a "set of bullet points designed more for the campaign trail than an actual blueprint for fixing our tax code."
While the 35 percent nominal corporate tax rate ranks among the highest, deductions, credits and exemptions allow many corporations to pay taxes at a much lower rate.
Under the framework proposed by the administration, the rate cuts, closed loopholes and the minimum tax on overseas earning would result in no increase to the deficit.
That means that many businesses that slip through loopholes or enjoy subsidies and pay an effective tax rate that is substantially less than the 35 percent corporate tax could end up paying more under Obama's plan. Others, however, would pay less while some would simply benefit from a more simplified system.
Reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent would reduce tax revenues by about $700 billion over the next decade, according to an estimate prepared in October by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the official scorekeeper for Congress.
That means lawmakers would have to find about $70 billion a year in tax increases to keep the package from adding to the budget deficit, hardly an easy task. In 2010, the corporate income tax raised a total of $278 billion, according to the Internal Revenue Service. Corporate income taxes have been shrinking as a share of overall federal taxes for decades. In 2010, corporate income taxes made up just 12 percent of all federal tax receipts, down from 24 percent in 1960, according to the IRS.
Geithner said the Obama plan aims to help U.S. businesses, especially manufacturers who face strong international competition. Obama's plan would lower the effective rate for manufacturers to 25 percent by offering other tax incentives that emphasize development of clean energy systems.
Many members of both parties have said they favor overhauling the nation's individual and corporate tax systems, which they complain have rates that are too high and are riddled with too many deductions.
The corporate tax debate has made its way into the presidential contest. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has called for a 25 percent rate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., would cut the corporate tax rate to 12.5 percent, and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., would exempt domestic manufacturers from the corporate tax and halve the top rate for other businesses.
While Obama has been promoting various aspects of his economic agenda in personal appearances and speeches, the decision to leave the corporate tax plan to the Treasury Department to unveil signaled its lower priority.
What's more, the administration's framework leaves much for Congress to decide — a deliberate move by the administration to encourage negotiations but which also doesn't subject the plan to detailed scrutiny.
Obama's plan is not as ambitious as a House Republican proposal that would lower the corporate rate to 25 percent.
Still, Obama has said corporate tax rates are too high and has proposed eliminating tax breaks for American companies that move jobs and profits overseas. He also has proposed giving tax breaks to U.S. manufacturers, to firms that return jobs to this country and to companies that relocate to some communities that have lost big employers.
Geithner told a House committee last week that the administration wants to create more incentives for corporations to invest in the United States.
"We want to bring down the rate, and we think we can, to a level that's closer to the average of that of our major competitors," Geithner told the House Ways and Means Committee.
White House economic adviser Gene Sperling has advocated a minimum tax on global profits. Currently many corporations do not invest overseas profits in the United States to avoid the 35 percent tax rate.
November 3, 2011
One of the driving forces behind the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests is the fact that corporations have not been paying their fair share in taxes. A new report from Citizens for Tax Justice will no nothing to alleviate the protesters’ frustration.
CTJ looked at 280 companies, all of them members of the Fortune 500, and found that “while the federal corporate tax code ostensibly requires big corporations to pay a 35 percent corporate income tax rate, on average, the 280 corporations in our study paid only about half that amount.” And those who paid even half the statutory corporate tax rate paid far more than many of their competitors.
In fact, in the last three years, 78 corporations had at least one year where they paid no federal income tax at all, while 30 corporations paid not a dime over the entire three years. Those 30 corporations paid nothing, even though they made $160 billion in profits over that period:
– Seventy-eight of the 280 companies paid zero or less in federal income taxes in at least one year from 2008 to 2010…In the years they paid no income tax, these companies earned $156 billion in pretax U.S. profits. But instead of paying $55 billion in income taxes as the 35 percent corporate tax rate seems to require, these companies generated so many excess tax breaks that they reported negative taxes (often receiving outright tax rebate checks from the U.S. Treasury), totaling $21.8 billion. These companies’ “negative tax rates” mean that they made more after taxes than before taxes in those no-tax years.
– Thirty corporations paid less than nothing in aggregate federal income taxes over the entire 2008-10 period. These companies, whose pretax U.S. profits totaled $160 billion over the three years, included: Pepco Holdings (–57.6% tax rate), General Electric (–45.3%), DuPont (–3.4%), Verizon (–2.9%), Boeing (–1.8%), Wells Fargo (–1.4%) and Honeywell (–0.7%).
As CTJ’s report put it, “just as workers pay their fair share of taxes on their earnings, so should successful businesses pay their fair share on their success. But today corporate tax loopholes are so out of control that most Americans can rightfully complain, ‘I pay more federal income taxes than General Electric, Boeing, DuPont, Wells Fargo, Verizon, etc., etc., all put together.’ That’s an unacceptable situation.” And its one that lawmakers could fix, if they were willing to stand up to the nation’s biggest corporations.
November 3, 2011
The 280 most profitable U.S. corporations are sheltering half their profits from federal income taxes, and 30 of them paid less than zero in the last three years, according to a new study.
The study also found that 78 of the corporations paid no federal income tax in at least one of the last three years. The study, by Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, expands on a preliminary report in June by the advocacy group that sparked controversy (see 12 Major Corporations Pay Less Than Zero in Taxes).
The average effective tax rate for all 280 companies in the study over the three-year period was 18.5 percent. For the period 2009-2010 it was 17.3 percent, less than half the statutory rate of 35 percent. Total tax subsidies given to all 280 profitable corporations amounted to $222.7 billion from 2008-2010. Thirty companies enjoyed a negative income tax rate over the three year period, despite combined pre-tax profits of $160 billion.Wells Fargo topped the list of 280 U.S. corporations receiving the most in tax subsidies, getting nearly $18 billion in tax breaks from the U.S. Treasury in the last three years.
Pepco Holdings had the lowest effective tax rate of all the companies in the study, at negative 57.6 percent over the three year period.
The study was released at a time when many corporations are lobbying for lower corporate rates and a tax holiday on repatriated foreign profits.
“Our study provides proof that too many corporations are already being coddled by our tax system,” said Citizens for Tax Justice director Robert McIntyre, the report’s lead author.
Some companies within sectors fare worse than others, the study found. For example, the report found that FedEx paid a 0.9 percent tax rate over the three-year period, while its competitor, UPS, paid a 24.1 percent rate.
While retailers and wholesalers in the study generally pay average effective tax rates of about 30 percent, online commerce giant Amazon.com paid a rate of only 7.9 percent on its $1.8 billion in profits from 2008 to 2010.
Financial services companies received the largest share (16.8 percent) of all federal tax subsidies over the last three years. More than half of the federal corporate tax subsidies for companies in the study went to four industries: financial services, utilities, telecommunications, and oil, gas and pipelines.
The top 10 defense contractors saw their combined tax rate decline from 19.3 percent in 2008 to a mere 10.6 percent rate in 2010.
U.S. corporations with significant (10 percent or more of their total worldwide profits) foreign profits paid tax rates to foreign countries that were almost a third higher than the taxes they paid to the IRS on their domestic profits.
Most of the corporations do not release their tax returns. Instead the study relied on the annual reports and 10-K forms filed by the corporations with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which often include information on the tax liabilities and benefits claimed on their financial statements. These can differ from the actual tax returns they file with the IRS, however, and many of the companies pay other types of taxes, such as state and payroll taxes.
May 2, 2011
The United States may soon wind up with a distinction that makes business leaders cringe — the highest corporate tax rate in the world.
But by taking advantage of myriad breaks and loopholes that other countries generally do not offer, United States corporations pay only slightly more on average than their counterparts in other industrial countries. And some American corporations use aggressive strategies to pay less — often far less — than their competitors abroad and at home. A Government Accountability Office study released in 2008 found that 55 percent of United States companies paid no federal income taxes during at least one year in a seven-year period it studied.
The paradox of the United States tax code — high rates with a bounty of subsidies, shelters and special breaks — has made American multinationals “world leaders in tax avoidance,” according to Edward D. Kleinbard, a professor at the University of Southern California who was head of the Congressional joint committee on taxes. This has profound implications for businesses, the economy and the federal budget.
As Congress wrestles with how to get the deficit under control, one big point of contention is whether spending cuts will need to be accompanied by an increase in taxes on some individuals or businesses. Facing a full-court press from business leaders who say the tax system is outdated and onerous, President Obama, Congress and business leaders have been warily negotiating various proposals, though mostly about whether to cut the top corporate rate and to tighten tax laws and not about whether to increase revenue.
The United States is virtually alone in trying to tax its multinational corporations on their foreign earnings, but it allows companies to avoid those taxes indefinitely by keeping profits overseas. That encourages companies to use accounting maneuvers to shift profits to low-tax countries and to invest profits offshore, says David S. Miller, a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in New York.
Honeywell International, the New Jersey company that makes things as diverse as aerospace components and First Alert smoke detectors, reported in regulatory filings that in the last five years, it paid cash income taxes in the United States and abroad equal to 15 percent of its profits. On Friday, a Honeywell spokeswoman pointed out that the company had since made a large pension contribution, which effectively cut its profits and made its tax rate closer to 22 percent.
A major domestic competitor, United Technologies, reported an average of 24 percent over that time. A German rival, Siemens, reported 29 percent of its total profit.
In addition to being complex and uneven, the United States corporate tax code is inefficient and has become a diminishing source of revenue. Corporate taxes accounted for about 9 percent of all federal revenue in 2010. At $191 billion, they were equal to 1.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Most industrial countries collect more from companies, about 2.5 percent of output. Only a portion of that disparity can be explained by the many types of businesses in the United States that elect to be taxed at an individual rate.
“Whether the test is fairness or efficiency, the U.S. system gets really low marks,” said Michelle Hanlon, an M.I.T. professor who says the country needs to completely revamp the way it taxes corporations.
Not all American companies are willing or able to reduce their taxes drastically. Taxes vary more by industry here than abroad, according to a study released in February by Kevin S. Markle of Dartmouth and Douglas A. Shackelford of the University of North Carolina. At the high end, American retailers paid 31 percent in total income taxes, construction 30 percent and manufacturers 26 percent. Financial services companies paid an average of 20 percent, real estate 19 percent and mining 6 percent.
(Measuring taxes paid by companies is imprecise because tax filings remain private. In many cases, the estimates reported in a company’s financial filings with regulators overstate taxes paid in a year because they include deferred taxes. Nonetheless, academics, economists and elected officials use the estimates for comparative purposes.)
Because some companies are so effective at minimizing taxes, the average works out to far less than the official rate. United States companies pay about a quarter of their profits in federal income taxes, a few percentage points higher than the rate paid by companies in most other major industrial countries, according to a number of studies and tax experts.
Assorted proposals being discussed in Washington call for the rate to be lowered officially to about 25 percent and some tax breaks to be eliminated so that revenue remains unchanged.
But some prominent business leaders, including the chief executive of Procter & Gamble, are pushing for the rate to be reduced without reining in tax shelters. That would make the United States virtually the only country to change corporate taxes in recent years in a way that ended up adding to its deficit.
“One fact we know is that in all of the countries that have lowered their corporate rates in recent years, they still collected the same amount in revenues or more,” said Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, an international tax lawyer who teaches at the University of Michigan. “This means that they were broadening the base of the profits that corporations were actually taxed on.”
Procter & Gamble, whose products include Tide detergent and Crest toothpaste, paid an average of 24 percent of its profits in worldwide income taxes over the last three years, according to regulatory filings. That is nearly the same rate reported by two big European rivals, Unilever and Henkel.
Yet Robert A. McDonald, P.& G.’s top executive, testified before a Congressional committee this year about the need to cut the United States tax rate without ending tax breaks and shelters.
“We need a tax system that addresses today’s hypercompetitive global marketplace,” Mr. McDonald said, arguing that the playing field was tilted away from American businesses.
Many liberal groups counter that ending the breaks, subsidies and shelters in the corporate tax code could provide enough money to lower the rate several percentage points and still increase revenue.
Furthermore, some business owners complain that the American system unfairly rewards disingenuous bookkeeping rather than innovation.
It forces companies to compete “based not on product quality and services, but on accounting gymnastics,” said Paul Egerman, former chairman and chief executive of eScription, a medical transcription service in Boston.
No one is certain how much creative accounting costs the federal government in lost revenue, but most estimates say it easily exceeds $50 billion a year. Targeted tax preferences, which Congress created to intentionally benefit specific companies or industries, cost an estimated $100 billion more a year.
Many tax analysts are skeptical that Congress, business leaders and the Obama administration will be able to reach a deal before the 2012 election.
“It’s human nature that people are going to fight harder to preserve a benefit they already have than to get some new benefit,” said Clint Stretch, a principal at Deloitte Tax and a former counsel to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. “The only way tax reform makes everyone happy is if everyone wins. And with the federal budget where it is today, that’s not possible.”
August 31, 2011
Public outcry against lofty executive compensation has been constant since the beginning of the financial crisis, and a new study from the Institute for Policy Studies is sure to fan the flames even more.
The progressive Washington think tank found that 25 of the 100 highest-paid CEOs are actually making more money than their companies are paying in federal income taxes. The average compensation for those 25 CEOs was $16.7 million, according to Reuters.
The IPS report also notes that many of the companies spent more money on lobbying than they paid in taxes.
Click here to see the companies
August 14, 2011
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney sparked controversy with his statement earlier this week suggesting "corporations are people."
Legally, that statement is true. The Supreme Court ruled in the 1886 case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company that corporations share with people the same protections under the Fourteenth Amendment. However, his defense of his statement involves the logic that a corporation is considered a person because a corporation is comprised of individual people – a defense that does not follow the ruling, in which a corporation as an entity is presented as a person in and of itself. His inaccurate defense aside, Romney’s initial statement gives rise to a question.
If Mitt Romney believes that corporations are equivalent to people, why does he not support forcing corporations to pay their fair share of taxes?
Last year, Forbes reported that some of the "world's biggest, most profitable corporations enjoy a far lower tax rate than you do – that is, if they pay taxes at all."
In fact, General Electric paid no federal taxes in 2010.
Think Progress reports:
"From Bank of America to ExxonMobil to General Electric, these big businesses have gone quarters or entire years without paying their income taxes – at a time when the effective tax rate on a median family is 13.6 percent."
The United States has the second lowest tax rate for corporations in the world, with about two-thirds of corporations neglecting to pay any federal income tax. Loopholes in the tax code allow for corporations to avoid paying their share of taxes. As if that was not enough, according to a report analyzed by Think Progress, “…major corporations earned $173 billion in profits put together. Yet these major corporations paid an average federal corporate income tax rate…of -1.5 percent, meaning they actually got money back from the Treasury in the form of tax benefits.”
This escaping of paying a fair share of taxes is not a new phenomenon – Ronald Reagan, during his presidency, found that corporations during the eighties were not paying their income taxes. Think Progress states:
"So Reagan undertook a comprehensive tax reform effort that actually raised the corporate taxes and closed numerous loopholes that allowed big firms to dodge their tax responsibilities. As part of these reforms, Reagan passed the 1986 Tax Reform Act…
"During the signing ceremony for the speech, Reagan explained that his goal in pursuing these reforms was to make sure ‘that everybody and every corporation pay their fair share.'"
He closed tax loopholes for corporations that were worth $300 billion over five years.
If one believes a "corporation" is a "person," why should a corporation be able to avoid the responsibility each person bears, of paying a fair share of taxes? It is not fair that the average person must pay more than a corporation in taxes, when a corporation is considered a person.
If raising taxes on corporations is not on the table, why not consider following in Reagan’s footsteps and closing loopholes that allow corporations to escape their duty of paying taxes? Reagan is the Republican hero, after all.
November 3, 2011
The corporate tax rate is 35%. But an examination of 280 of the nation's largest corporations suggests that many aren't paying anything close to that.
The real tax rate paid by a slew of major corporations averages closer to 18.5%, according to a study released Thursday by two liberal tax research groups.
The report issued by Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy paints the corporate tax code as wildly inefficient, filled with loopholes and subject to the influence of lobbyists who carve out special provisions for the companies they represent.
The study looked at 280 companies in the Fortune 500 that were profitable for all three years between 2008 and 2010.
The results: 111 companies paid effective tax rates of less than 17.5% over the three-year period; 98 paid a rate between 17.5% and 30%; and 71 paid more than 30%.
The average rate? 18.5%.
Some companies paid zero. And 30 actually owed less than nothing in income taxes over the three years.
How does that happen?
At the root of the problem is a system of inverted incentives that encourages corporations to lobby for special tax breaks -- and politicians to insert them into the tax code.
Corporations pay lobbyists. Lobbyists convince lawmakers to add tax breaks. Lawmakers modify the tax code.
It wasn't always like this. The corporate tax code was cleaned of special tax breaks during the Reagan administration.
The clean slate didn't last long, and over time, special provisions have been added back in. NASCAR racetrack owners are allowed to write off the costs of their racetracks. There's the sweet deal for companies that make Puerto Rican rum.
Some of the biggest breaks go to companies that are allowed to write off investments in equipment more quickly than they actually depreciate.
The American tax machine
And certain companies enjoy incentives geared specifically at their businesses. The oil and gas industry, for example, is allowed to write off some drilling and exploration expenses.
All the breaks add up -- sometimes eliminating a company's tax burden altogether. Other companies reported so many "excess tax breaks" that their tax burden went "negative," the study said.
According to the study, utility Pepco Holdings and conglomerate General Electric have the highest negative income tax rates.
Pepco's profits totaled $882 million over the three-year period, while the company had a negative tax rate of 57.6%. GE earned $10.5 billion, with a negative rate of 45.3%, according to the study.
Pepco (POM, Fortune 500) said Thursday that it always operates within the law, and that the IRS audits every income tax return filed by the company.
"Pepco Holdings pays all its required taxes, including but not limited to income, sales, use, property, and gross receipts taxes, in all the taxing jurisdictions within which it operates," the company said in a statement.The truth about GE's tax bill
GE (GE, Fortune 500), which runs an extremely complicated multi-national operation, took issue with the study, calling it "inaccurate and distorted."
"GE paid billions of dollars in taxes in the United States over the last decade, and we expect our overall tax rate will be approximately 30% in 2011," the company said in a statement.
"We believe the U.S. tax system needs to be reformed to close all loopholes, to lower the corporate rate and to provide a territorial system like every other major country in the world."GE is not alone in calling for reform. Most lawmakers acknowledge the system is broken. President Obama called for corporate tax reform in his State of the Union address and the concept has support among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
The idea of reform is to lower the corporate tax rate while greatly scaling back tax breaks, loopholes and other provisions of the tax code that allow most corporate income to avoid taxation.
Despite the general consensus that something must be done, lawmakers are not likely to tackle the issue anytime soon. It's possible that the congressional super committee, now trying to find a way to cut the deficit, will make reform recommendations.
But don't count on too much action. The political atmosphere on Capitol Hill has prevented movement on many fiscal and tax issues in recent months.
Daniel Shaviro, a tax professor at New York University School of Law, said he doesn't anticipate big changes in the corporate tax code, at least in the near term.
"There is widespread sympathy for lowering the corporate rates," Shaviro said. "But I I tend to doubt it happens anytime soon." To top of page
August 12, 2008
Most U.S. and foreign corporations doing business in the United States avoid paying any federal income taxes, despite trillions of dollars worth of sales, a government study released on Tuesday said.
The Government Accountability Office said 72 percent of all foreign corporations and about 57 percent of U.S. companies doing business in the United States paid no federal income taxes for at least one year between 1998 and 2005.
More than half of foreign companies and about 42 percent of U.S. companies paid no U.S. income taxes for two or more years in that period, the report said.
During that time corporate sales in the United States totaled $2.5 trillion, according to Democratic Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, who requested the GAO study.
The report did not name any companies. The GAO said corporations escaped paying federal income taxes for a variety of reasons including operating losses, tax credits and an ability to use transactions within the company to shift income to low tax countries.
With the U.S. budget deficit this year running close to the record $413 billion that was set in 2004 and projected to hit a record $486 billion next year, lawmakers are looking to plug holes in the U.S. tax code and generate more revenues.
Dorgan in a statement called the report "a shocking indictment of the current tax system." Levin said it made clear that "too many corporations are using tax trickery to send their profits overseas and avoid paying their fair share in the United States."
The study showed about 28 percent of large foreign corporations, those with more than $250 million in assets, doing business in the United States paid no federal income taxes in 2005 despite $372 billion in gross receipts, the senators said. About 25 percent of the largest U.S. companies paid no federal income taxes in 2005 despite $1.1 trillion in gross sales that year, they said.